Do We Need to Interpret the Creation Account Literally?

Does it really matter what one believes about God’s creation?  Whether we believe in a literal view of Genesis or that God used evolution; who really cares?  There are many reasons that deem this question to be extremely important.

God’s Word is Above His Name

First of all, the Psalmist declares that “I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your loving kindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name” (Psalm 138:2 emphasis mine).  God’s has magnified His word, (the Bible [i]) above His name.  In Isaiah 40:8 we read, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands Interpret God's Word Literallyforever.” Thus, God is very concerned about the reputation of His word.  And if the Bible is from God, then, logically, it should be accurate and faithful in all that it says.  Consequently, we read that “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.  Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5, 6).  We want to neither add to nor subtract from His words since no true follower of God wants to be found a liar by God.  It follows then that six, literal days or fifteen billion years of creation are two radically different claims.  These are so dissimilar to one another that it certainly could be asserted as adding to or subtracting from His words depending which is in fact correct.

Genesis is Foundational

Secondly, Genesis chapters 1-11 are the foundation of our worldview.  Where we start often determines where we end up.  If we interpret those six days to mean simply six days, then we have an easy path for the remainder of the Bible – what it says is what it means.  However, if we start down the path that the Scriptures do not say what they actually mean – that there is a buried allegorical meaning that must be mined out of them to truly get to the real meaning, then we will find ourselves not really ever absolutely sure what the Bible means.  Since looking for the underlying meaning so much depends on the cleverness of the interpreter rather than on the evidence of archeology, history, biblical grammar, philology and comparative linguistics, the interpretation becomes very Genesis is Foundationalsubjective and fuzzy.  If the Bible cannot be trusted regarding our origin, how can we trust it regarding our destiny?  If six days really means something else, then how do we know that Jesus’ statement “no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6) doesn’t also mean something else?  Or how do we know that “he who believes in Me, though he may die, shall live” (John 11:25) doesn’t mean something different?  If Genesis, the foundation of our origin, where God created man and man disobeyed God and fell, is not accurate or trustworthy, then how do we know that anything else in Scripture truly is?  How then do we know that the promises of Heaven are true?

The Origin of Marriage

Consider some of the foundational teachings that originate in those first 11 chapters of Genesis.  The first description of marriage is found in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  If Adam and Eve were not really our first

parents and God didn’t really form them as stated in Genesis, then do we really become one flesh?  We are left without a clear precedent for marriage.  Jesus certainly invoked the first marriage account as a defense against those trying to justify divorce.  “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘…Because of the hardness of your heart He wrote you this precept.  But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.’” (Mark 10:5-8).  He then added, “so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.”  The fact that Jesus said “from the beginning…” proves (if we take Him literally) that He clearly claimed Adam and Eve to have been created in the

beginning not billions of years later as predicated by evolution.

The Origin of Sin and Death

Genesis chapter three offers us an insider’s view into how sin, death, and suffering came into the world as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve (whom Jesus stated were created in the beginning) to God’s commandment.  If we spiritualize this chapter of the Bible, then what is the historical foundation of our sin-filled world?  How do we account for death if Adam and Eve were merely allegorical or symbolic figures who never actually walked this earth and disobeyed their Maker?  However, if we use the simple method of literal interpretation, then understanding becomes very easy.  Understanding Genesis chapter three literally seems to be what Paul did in Origin of Death Found in GenesisRomans:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  (Romans 5:12-14)

Paul states that Adam sinned and so through him, one man, sin spread to all.  He also mentions that Adam is a type of Him who was to come.  By saying that Adam is a type in no way is he suggesting that Adam was not a real person; rather Adam was the first of a kind, that is (sinful) humanity, and so too Jesus was the first of a kind (humanity holy and without sin).  In verse 17 Paul says, “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”  Because Paul contrasts Adam with Jesus and since he unquestionably believed Jesus to be a real, historical person, then we can safely conclude that Paul also believed Adam to be a real, historical person.

The Promise of the Redeemer

Jesus the Redeemer of the WorldThe importance of the book of Genesis as being a trustworthy and true account of historical and actual events is hopefully evident.  Not only does it contain the true history of man’s fall, but also the promise of the coming redeemer.  In Genesis 3:15 God promised that someday, one of Eve’s offspring would come and make right and annul the effects of their disobedience.  “And I will put enmity between you [the Serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  Ancient Jewish interpretation [ii] of this verse likewise understands the verse to be a promise of the coming Messiah and His remedy for man.  To dismiss the creation and fall of man as figurative and not literal is to undermine the very heart of the Bible’s message of the coming redeemer.

Taking the Genesis creation account literally is extremely important and the evolutionists know it which is why the American Atheist Magazine spells it out in case there was any doubt.

“Christianity has fought, still fights, and will continue to fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.” [iii]


[i] I believe the Bible is a faithful and reliable historical document inspired by God.  There are numerous excellent books and websites on the subject, which demonstrate the accuracy of the Bible.  Visit  christiananswers.net/ for general questions and answersingenesis.com for answers to many Bible and science questions.

[ii] “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between the seed of thy son, and the seed of her sons…Nevertheless for them there shall be a medicine, but for thee there will be no medicine; and they shall make a remedy for the heel in the days of the King Meshiha. [Messiah]” (Targum Jonathan, Genesis 3:15)

[iii] – R. Bozarth 1979: 30, “The Meaning of Evolution” American Atheist Magazine, (emphasis mine)

The First Six Days

The First Six Days Banner

The goal of this book is to show that biblically and historically creation took place in six, literal days. I do not attempt to argue the finer points of creation science because I am not a specialist in those areas. However, there are many who are specialists in their respective fields who have spent many years developing plausible answers to the questions surrounding creation. I have listed the resources below that I believe will be of particular interest as you desire to dig deeper and discover that the science of creationists is just as good, and many times better, than that of the evolutionists.”

– Douglas Hamp

If God really created via evolution then why does God say that He created everything in only six days? Are those days literal days or are they really indefinite periods of time as Progressive Creationism claims? We know dinosaurs were real; when did God create them if He created in six, literal days only thousands of years ago. The answers to these questions are plainly laid out in Scripture. Ancient commentators, both Jewish and Christian, all agreed that the Bible taught a literal, six day creation only thousands of years ago.


Douglas Hamp’s work The First Six Days is a much needed contribution to settle the question of days or ages. As a Hebrew language specialist trained at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he demonstrates convincingly from the pages of Scripture that the days of the Genesis creation account are literal days. He also carefully clarifies some misrepresentations of what day means in Hebrew. This is followed up by a stimulating review of the literal, six-day position held by ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters as well as archaeological corroboration of the biblical record.”

– Dr. John Morris, President Institute for Creation Research

It’s wonderful to have an easy-to-read yet well-researched book that demonstrates that a sound reading of Genesis chapter 1 demands a literal, six-day creation week. If you’ve ever asked yourself whether the first six creation days were real days, or whether it even matters, this book by pastor and educator Douglas Hamp is for you.”

– Ken Ham, Founder and President, Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum

A powerful examination of the biblical, linguistic, historical and archaeological evidence affirming that the creation days of Genesis were nothing but real and literal days. If you think that God worked through evolution, read this book and be challenged. If you believe that God created in a literal six days, read this book and be strengthened.”

– Joseph Farah, Chief Executive Officer WorldNetDaily.com Inc.

For me, this book was a faith-strengthener in the power of God as creator.”

Carl Westerlund Th.M, Director Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa School of Ministry and Graduate School

 

An easy to read yet meticulously researched book demonstrating that the only sound reading of Genesis 1 is a literal, six-day creation week.  This is a must read for everyone asking the question of how long were the first six days!

Pastor Chuck Smith, Senior Pastor Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA

 

– Pastor Chuck Smith, Senior Pastor Calvary ChapelCosta Mesa, CA

 

And others…

Mr. Hamp,
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the study that you have put into proving the literal interpretation of Genesis and helping to help others that have been deceived by the deceptive philosophical truth claims that have permeated our society. You are a true blessing and I’m praying for you and your family. When I have the money I will support your ministry and of course by your book “The First Six Days”. Blessing to you and your family.


Table of Contents

Introduction

    • Questions of Origins
    • How Long Were Those Six Days?

1 – The Importance of Genesis

    • God’s Word is Above His Name
    • Genesis is Foundational
    • The Origin of Sin and Death
    • Genesis Contains the Promise of the Redeemer

2 – Evolution Plus God

    • What is Evolution?
    • The Changes in Language and Culture
    • From Micro to Macro to Abiogenesis
    • According to Its Kind
    • Dogs Are Still Dogs
    • Views of Biblical Creation
    • Theistic Evolution
    • The Gap Theory
    • Progressive Creationism
    • How Much Time Does God Need?

3 – The Fact of Evolution

    • What is Science?
    • Evolution Sunday
    • The Clergy Letter Project
    • What Kind of Truths Are the Biblical Promises?
    • Darwin Didn’t Want God’s Help

4 – Interpreting Genesis

    • The Method of Interpreting the Bible
    • Scripture Interprets Scripture
    • Hermeneutics
    • What Do We Mean By Literal?
    • What is Allegory?
    • Striking the Rock
    • Daniel
    • Jeremiah’s 70 Years
    • Daniel’s Understanding of the 70 Years
    • The Chronicler Agreed
    • Interpreting Literary Genre
    • What is Meant By Literary Genre?
    • Scholars Believe in Literal Days of Genesis
    • Final Thoughts Concerning Biblical Interpretation

5 – The Question of Days

    • Meanings of Day in the Old Testament
    • 24-Hour Days
    • Days With a Cardinal Number
    • Days with Ordinal Numbers
    • Days in Hosea 6:2
    • The First Day
    • Bara and Asa
    • The Heavens and Earth
    • Tohu Vavohu
    • Tehom, The Deep
    • Merachefet, God’s Energizing of His Creation
    • God Speaks
    • The Days in Genesis 1
    • God Defines the Days for Us
    • The Days in Genesis 2
    • Genesis 2:4
    • Genesis 2:5 – 2:7
    • Genesis 2:19
    • A Final Objection
    • With The Lord
    • A Little Word with Big Meaning
    • Psalm 90:4
    • Summary of the Days in Genesis 1 and 2

6 – Days According to Ancient Jewish Commentators

  • The Use of Ancient Interpreters
  • Targumim
  • Targum Onkelos
  • Targumim Jonathan
  • Josephus
  • From The Creation
  • In Just Six Days
  • Rabbinic interpretation
  • The Talmud Comments on the Mishna
  • Rashi
  • Other Rabbis
  • Philo
  • Philo’s Paraphrase
  • Philo’s Allegorical Treatise
  • Philo and the Number Six
  • 7 – Days According to the Church Fathers

  • The Early Church Fathers
  • Twisting the Words of the Early Fathers
  • Barnabas
  • Irenaeus
  • Theophilus of Antioch
  • God Finished in Six Days
  • Theophilus’ Simple Arithmetic
  • To Theophilus, The Earth Is Young
  • Clement of Alexandria
  • Hippolytus
  • Origen and Methodius
  • Origen’s Disturbing Doctrines
  • Methodius Opposed to Origen’s Teaching
  • Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries
  • Victorinus
  • Lactantius
  • Augustine
  • Creation Was Less than Six Thousand Years Ago
  • Augustine’s “Literal” Interpretation
  • Spontaneous Generation a Fact For Augustine
  • The Fathers Believed in a Young Earth
  • 8 – What Did Adam Know On His First Day?

  • Naming the Animals
  • Parallelisms
  • Etymologies
  • Replenish the Earth and the Gap Theory
  • Replenish/Malu
  • 9 – The Day God Created Dinosaurs

  • Dinosaurs Were Real
  • Where Are the Dinosaurs in the Bible?
  • Tanninim
  • The Origin of the Word
  • Three Root Letters
  • Dragons in the Septuagint
  • Behemoth
  • God’s Description of Behemoth
  • Elephant or Hippo?
  • It’s a Tail and Nothing Else
  • The Bones
  • Leviathan
  • A Dragon/Snake-Like Creature
  • God’s Description of Leviathan
  • Not An Ordinary Creature!
  • Invincible
  • Fire Breathing
  • A Shining Wake
  • Impenetrable Armour
  • Where is the proof?
  • Soft Tissue and Red Blood Cells
  • 10 – The Day Men Saw Dinosaurs

  • Challenging the Paradigm
  • Needed Skepticism
  • Nazca Graves
  • Sophisticated Drawings
  • Possible Hoaxes?
  • Expert Analysis
  • The Rocks in the Laboratory
  • The Ica Stones Are Not Unique
  • Three Possible Answers
  • 11 – Are Six Days Enough?

  • Starlight and Time
  • The Rocks Speak
  • Polonium Radiohalos
  • Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth
  • The Grand Canyon and Mount St Helens: Keys to Geology
  • Cataclysmic Change
  • The Canyon Formed Quickly
  • Footprints in the Ash
  • The Testimony of the Fossil Record
  • Six Days Are Enough

12 – In Six Days

Epilogue (Knowing the Creator)

Appendix 1: The Last Years of Time

Appendix 2: Resources

Notes

Bibliography